Illicit Love: Interracial Sex and Marriage in the United States and Australia

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U of Nebraska Press, 2015 - Family & Relationships - 503 pages

Illicit Love is a history of love, sex, and marriage between Indigenous peoples and settler citizens at the heart of two settler colonial nations, the United States and Australia. Award-winning historian Ann McGrath illuminates interracial relationships from the late eighteenth to the early twentieth century through stories of romance, courtship, and marriage between Indigenous peoples and colonizers in times of nation formation.

The romantic relationships of well-known and ordinary interracial couples provide the backdrop against which McGrath discloses the "marital middle ground" that emerged as a primary threat to European colonial and racial supremacy in the Atlantic and Pacific Worlds from the Age of Revolution to the Progressive Era. These relationships include the controversial courtship between white, Connecticut-born Harriett Gold and southern Cherokee Elias Boudinot; the Australian missionary Ernest Gribble and his efforts to socially segregate the settler and aboriginal population, only to be overcome by his romantic impulses for an aboriginal woman, Jeannie; the irony of Cherokee leader John Ross's marriage to a white woman, Mary Brian Stapler, despite his opposition to interracial marriages in the Cherokee Nation; and the efforts among ordinary people in the imperial borderlands of both the United States and Australia to circumvent laws barring interracial love, sex, and marriage.

Illicit Love reveals how marriage itself was used by disparate parties for both empowerment and disempowerment and came to embody the contradictions of imperialism. A tour de force of settler colonial history, McGrath's study demonstrates vividly how interracial relationships between Indigenous and colonizing peoples were more frequent and threatening to nation-states in the Atlantic and Pacific worlds than historians have previously acknowledged.

 

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Contents

List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments
A Perfect Marriage?
Against History?
Ernest Gribble and Jeannie
Socrates Cherokee Sovereignty and the Regulation of White
John Ross and Mary Bryan Stapler
Husbands under Surveillance
Consent and Aboriginal Wives
Polygamys New Worlds
Entwined Sovereignties and the Great Unwedding
Transnational Families
Notes
Bibliography
Copyright

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About the author (2015)

Ann McGrath is a professor of history and the director of the Australian Centre for Indigenous History at Australian National University. She is the author and editor of numerous books, including How to Write History That People Want to Read; Writing Histories: Imagination and Narration; and Contested Ground: A History of Australian Aborigines under the British Crown. McGrath won the 2016 John Douglas Kerr Medal of Distinction from the Royal Historical Society of Queensland for research and writing Australian history.